Turkse Mythologie * Ingrid Klerk (isbn 9065562265 * 2003)

This is a very nice book about “Turkish mythology”. Actually the title is not totally correct, because the book speaks about the mythology of the “Oghuz” people. A people from central Asia that spread to Mongol, Siberia and for example nowadays Turkey. Klerk is a Dutch woman who happened to run into a collection of this mythology and she was captured by it. She kept looking for more while living in Turkey. When she moved back to the Netherlands she has thaught Turkish for many years and still she acts as interpreter. After many years she decided to write a book about the subject, because it is largely unknown in the Netherlands.

The first half is a wonderfull and very interesting introduction into “Turkish mythology”. Klerk writes about history of the peoples, important persons in this history, how the texts came to us, the Asian singer-poet tradtion, shamans, etc. All this is written very clearly with large quotes from old texts. It is striking to see the similarities with Northern-European mythology at times. There is a tree of life reaching for the polar star, there are giants and gods, trips are being made to upper- and underworlds and souls of the deceased are got back after leaving alongside the watcher dog of the underworld. Some happenings are quite like Western myths. And the most eye-catching thing is that the “Gök-Türk” look a lot like runes! Klerk proves that she has understand the mythology well and writes well about it. She does miss possible references to initiation practises.

The second half consists of eight stories in translation. After the first story of creation which is much like the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, these are mostly heroic stories of fights against monsters and wars between peoples. Rather bloody all by the way.

I can suggest this book to everyone interested in mythology, also when your interest lays mostly in the Indo-European ‘section’. Apparently there are also similarities between Indo-European and non-Indo-European mythologies.

The book is in Dutch though. <7/5/05>

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